A Celebration

My first Indonesian Birthday party.IMG_4507[1]

I felt very blessed to have been invited to share in the celebration of Dewi’s 19th birthday.

We shared a prayer blessing, we shared food and we shared laughs! My contribution was introducing the game of Charades. I think one of my absolute favorite things to share with someone is a laugh!

We had plenty of those.

The one thing we all have in common is that we watch movies.  That being said, we stayed with movie titles.  Their acting skills are much better than mine:)

See if you can guess this one. The answer is below the video clip.

Jurassic Park


Eid al-Adha

I have known about this holiday since I arrived in Indonesia, so its no surprise. The closer it gets the more I struggle. This evening the festival begins.
The energy of the city is shifting. I FEEL it!
Eid al-Adha is a Muslim religious holiday celebrated every year world wide.


It honors the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his first born son Ishmael in a test of devotion to Allah. Abraham ignores the temptations of the Devil to disobey, and is rewarded with a sacrificial lamb to slaughter rather than his son. Cows, Goats and Sheep, started appearing the beginning of last week in abandoned lots, used car lots (that switch from selling cars to housing animals), and mosque court yards in preparation for this religious holiday. After these animals have been sacrificed the meat is given to the poor.
As I have been traveling to and from my home everyday this past week I have seen these makeshift lots everywhere. Yesterday I stopped to pet one of these goats and stood there in tears.
I asked myself, how is this any different than what takes place in the states? We celebrate Thanksgiving much the same way. Many turkeys are gathered and sacrificed for this holiday. We also celebrate many other holidays gathered around a table where an animal was sacrificed. I have partaken in these holidays since I was born. I have also purchased and eaten the meat that was served during these social gatherings. I am still not a vegetarian.
So why am I struggling with this festival so much? Maybe because its hit closer to home, so to speak. I am now up close and personal. Its not like walking into a grocery store and seeing packaged meats on display. They bear no resemblance to the animal with 4 legs, eyes, nose, a mouth, ears and a soul that gave its life so that we may eat.
Believe me it makes a BIG difference.
Again I ask myself, what am I here to learn through this experience.
For me, it has truly opened my eyes and has helped me once again to not take beings, situations and things in my life for granted.
Each person who reads this will have there own interpretation.
We are humans…emotions will arise.
May your minds be open to receive your message.
I bless your journey.

Observation From a Classroom

It is fascinating to watch these fledglings discover something new. I am mesmerized by their curiosity. An international setting lends itself to a new perspective for me. Everyone is standing on the ledge of discovery. It is a learning ground of reciprocity. The questions sail through the air like shuttle cocks. The answers from the instructor or another student cascade and shower like rain.  With mouths open wide like baby birds everyone is fed. Only to return with another cry for more information. The students take such pride in their education and the Instructors in their illumination.

Once again my naivete’ has taken a front row seat. The students here do not seem to air a sense of privilege. Respect for each other and other adults is not questioned or tested. There is a sense of appreciation for each other no matter, the color of their skin, their gender or level of knowledge. From my years of experience, being in the classroom as a student, an educator, an interpreter and an advocate I did not glean this perspective.

This experience has been breathtakingly enjoyable.

To Be or Not to Be?

I was on my scooter and following my (trusted) Global Positioning System(GPS). NOT! It led me down a dead-end. When trying to navigate myself out of the predicament my GPS put me in I happened upon a woman who was standing in the street waiting for a GO Jeck. I said, do you speak English? And she said yes. I just about jumped off my scooter and gave her a big hug. I was already 2 hours into being lost at that point. You can imagine my excitement when I found this unexpected surprise! I said I have no idea where I am at. She said good luck getting out of here. Well..now that helped, I thought!  She said there is only one way in here and one way out. She showed me her digital map and insisted, “see.” This Go Jeck driver is even lost. He keeps driving into a dead-end. She said, so how long have you lived here? I humbly replied, a month. She said WOW! You are Brave.. She explained, I have been here 6 years and you could not pay me enough to be driving on my own. The traffic is crazy and finding your way around here is like well… And she looks at me and repeats, Wow your braver than I am.

I invite my neighbor over to my apartment for a visit. In the course of our conversation she commented WOW Trina you are so brave. You live in this apartment all by yourself and you travel alone. I don’t know how you do it. I could NEVER do that! I need someone in the house with me.

I don’t feel like I am being brave. When taking steps outside my comfort zone I feel more alive and in control of my life.

Yeah I am scared! You dang betcha!

But then I ask myself…

To Be or Not To Be?

A Tailored Experience

Coming from America it’s hard to wrap my head around a day’s pay being so low!

An American friend of mine needed the curtains in her house hemmed.
She commenced to hire a man to come to her house and do just such a job.

On a side note…Did you know that a person who reaches the age of 60 here is no longer allowed to work for a business, corporation or a company? Yep, You are kaputt as a card carrying member of the middle class society! You are either to live with your children or find something else to earn some form of income.
It is not uncommon to see an individual with his trade strapped to his bicycle. For example: A welder, schlepping Acetylene tank and a torch; a tailor, whos’ sewing machine is mounted to the handle bars and his sewing kit strapped behind the seat.
I wanted to see for myself so I went out in search of this skilled craftsmen because my backpack was falling apart.
He did a better job than I would of ever done:) Take a look.

There are also individuals who are armored only with flip flops and an index finger brave enough to stand in harm’s way in the middle of an intersection subconsciously repeating a Hail Mary( oops maybe that was me) and face the barrage of impatient drivers in navigating you through the motorized insanity of oncoming traffic for a few, and I mean a few rupiah… .04-.20 cents.
Did I ever mention that the largest bank note here is equal to approximately $8.25? Yep, that is all she wrote!

So back to my story…
The tailor showed up at my friend’s house and carefully managed to hem all the curtains on his creatively crafted, dual purpose, two wheeled engineered mobile sweat factory. After he completed his work. My friend handed him $10.00.
What appeared to be a mere pittance, for ministering a full day’s work which in turn rendered a HUGE smile and deep gratitude.
He humbly revealed, “that is double my standard pay!”

Toxic Cleasning

Kemiri translated Candlenut, is toxic when ingested raw.
I was walking through the produce isle and found a package of these next to the raw ginger and other spices.  I google translated the Indonesian word and discovered it was a nut at least so I thought. I should of got clue from where it was perched. But I was hungry and it was healthy and I was excited to try a different kind of “nut.”
I began to chow down on this unexpected delight. They kinda look like a Macadamia nut in the package only a little bigger and they taste a little more bland. I probably had about 15 of them.
One and half hours later I started shaking, sweating and experiencing dizziness, stomach cramping and nauseous. OMG what did I do?????? I googled again “can I eat raw Candlenuts” … A tumultuous NO started ringing in my ears after I read the definition.
Well it’s a little late now I thought!  I immediately had a flashback of the movie “Into the Wild”
I was beyond SCARED!
Damnit is was all in fun until someone gets hurt!
Candlenuts are used in cooking.  It’s a spice. When cooked the toxicity dissipates.
Needless to say I got myself to the emergency room.
I am home now.  The gifts of these little treasures just keep showing up with frequent visits to the little girls room.
Seriously though I am so grateful. THANK GOD!!! This could of been so much worse.
I think I found the real NUT!

Muslim Call to Prayer

Muslims are called to prayer 5 times a day; sunrise, midday, afternoon, sunset and after nightfall. Each and every time a cleansing is to be preformed. They should not pray if they are not clean. It begins with a prayer in Arabic then specific parts of the body are cleansed. 1st the hands, mouth, nose, face, ears, arms, the top of the head, legs, feet and then concluded by a prayer.
There are places set a side for prayer; Mosques, shopping malls, offices parks or anywhere that is clean. Here in Jakarta, these call to prayers are announced on loud speakers sounding somewhat like a chant. These can be heard every where.


Once the call happens Muslims are to stop what ever they are doing and take the time to cleanse and pray. I was blessed to have the opportunity to video the cleansing and the prayer.

In prayer a women is to be covered. Otherwise her prayer is said not be valid. Hijabs are worn as a symbol of modesty and privacy.

Indonesian style

Eating in the traditional Indonesian manner requires only the use of your binary digits. There is a little skill required and I had a great teacher. Meet my new found friend Emilia also finder of lost phones, Indonesian translator, and tour guide:)


Emilia, her friend Lulu, aka Minnie Pearl, Emilia’s sister Irma.

I know… you want to break out in a version of the  Sesame Street song don’t you? Ok, I will humor you. Three of these things belong together. Three of these things are kinda the same. Can you guess which one of these doesn’t belong here? LOL  Emilia wanted to make sure I was protected by the sun.

This is my attempt at eating with my fingers while following Emilia’s instructions.She is explaining there are some sort of enzymes that can be collected from your fingers that aids in the digestion of your food.  I think I need a little practice. I am 54 and I still have not mastered a knife and a fork yet. 

Here is the Master demonstrating with ease and grace:).

Divine Intervention Called

The first day I met Emilia, my neighbor, she was burning leaves and debris on the street next to her house. I walk up to her and ask if I could take her picture. She said why. I said where I come from we can’t do that in the city. She sadly explained that an infestation of insects had destroyed her collection of English dictionaries and she had to burn all of them. She said, look I lost them all and they meant so much to me. I used them everyday.

Have you ever had an instant connection with someone you just knew they had good intentions and their soul was pure? The moment I met Emilia we connected.
Yesterday i was waiting for a Go Jeck driver. When he arrived I was putting on my helmet and left my phone on a stand near my apartment. There is a quite a bit of traffic on the street at the time of day. I did not realize I left my phone till I arrived at school.

Last night on my way home I was finally able to process through the feelings of loss. I thought about the convenience of having a phone. It easily connects me with those I love. It helped me locate places like a Dr., a grocery store and other information I needed. It helped me navigate my way home when I was lost. I cried most of the way home. I felt so disconnected.
Before I got to my apartment I stopped at Emilia’s because today I was suppose to take a day trip with her and I knew she had been trying to text me all day yesterday to plan a time to meet and I never responded to her.
It is difficult to visit someone at their house in Jakarta as most everyone has a chained gate so you cannot knock on their door to notify them you have arrived.
I yelled towards her house several times. No answer. I started walking home and several feet away I heard the gate rattle. She noticed I had been crying. She asked me what happened .. I explained. Oh Trina, I am so sorry about your phone. I thanked her for her support and I returned home. I was exhausted.
I laid down and could not sleep. A feeling washed over me that “all is well.” This phone will be returned to me. I had a deep feeling someone would be knocking at my door with my phone. I fell asleep around 1:30. At 2:30am…Devine Intervention is knocking on my door. I was so disoriented. I opened the door slowly and it was Emilia and my security guard. I said OMG its late what are you doing here. She said, Trina I could not sleep since you left. I called my son. I asked him to help me find your phone. I have called your phone several times. I also texted them and said, you are a good person, my friend is sad, please bring my friends phone back and she gave my address. The person called me back at 1:20 and again at 2:00. say hello, and they hang up on me. I said, it will only ring and not connect because I am out of mins. I went looking for your phone in the bushes along the street, she said. I was so emotional by this time. I barely know this woman. I thought. I am so blessed!
She said Trina, I think they are trying to contact you.
Her son then came over. He said, lets pull up “Find My phone app” on my Iphone and track your phone. I said , I have already tried calling and tracking my phone at school and a message pops up that reads “device is offline” I don’t think my ” location services” is turned on. We tried again. Then God appeared in the form of a green light. I was so excited!
I said, ok so this person has obviously hacked my phone if he is calling you. They both looked at me. I explained. They said, oh you mean “jail break.” I giggled.
We don’t know the situation, her son replied. To be safe let’s go to the police Dept. her son announced. If we wait, the battery may die and we may loose the tracking device.
It turns out the phone was picked up by some young man and he gave it to his relative.
When I got my phone nothing had changed. In fact, all new emails and messages had not been opened.
Meet my Indonesian Power Posse Pam Grout:)


Verbal Disfluency

Umm, ha, huh, uh etc. These interjections have been used and abuse again and again by mwah when aiming to buy food, getting directions or looking for something etc.
When I have tried to utter Indonesian Bahasa it comes out as undecipherable. I know the correct pronunciation for the vowels. I have listened to a translator and have tried to mimic it. Oyi I suck at rolling my r’s. After my initial visual examination on my victim’s face I either want to cry, blush, run, but almost never do I want to smile or giggle with glee because I captured a smile from my dubious attempt at actually pronouncing the words correctly or mastered grammar in a single phrase. If this happens stand back because I have become unzipped!!!
Have you ever tried to learn a language and your clicking along and you think to yourself Eureka! I am ready to have a semi reasonable conversation with someone.
You have been taught by someone who speaks the language clearly and concisely and its been taught like this:
The …… store…. Is….. down….the….street. Insert the native and it comes out sounding something like this: Kxhfuejbrhdjfudjsksj, and the look on your face looks like you just swallowed a block of cheese!
I know practice makes the tongue roll smoother and this feeling of awkwardness and not being understood shall pass. OH Hallelujah!!! I can start enjoying what I am eating instead of choking it down:)